Paris can be a challenge with kids, especially if they’re in strollers, and parents may grow frustrated because there are so many wonderful grown-up things to see and do. The trick is to admit to yourself that you just won’t see as much as you’d like to and schedule lots of playtime. In the end, everyone will be less stressed out and happier, even if you didn’t get to all 14 of those museums you had dreamed of visiting.
Spend the morning at the Jardin du Luxembourg, where your offspring can go wild at the huge playground, sail boats in the fountain, ride a pony, or just run around and have fun. Depending on your situation, parents can take turns sneaking off to visit nearby attractions, such as the Panthéon, Musée Zadkine, and St-Etienne-du-Mont, or find peace and quiet in a Latin Quarter café. Then walk down to St-Germain-des-Prés and peek into the church before lunching at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. After lunch, walk back up to St-Sulpice and catch the no. 87 bus to the Champs de Mars, where you will visit the Eiffel Tower. After that, everyone will be pooped. Thankfully, the boat ride on the Seine leaves just down by the river.
Start your day at the Jardin des Plantes, where you can choose between the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, the Ménagerie (a small zoo), and the playground. There’s also a fun boxwood labyrinth at the top of a little hill. Lunch at the nearby Mosquée de Paris, a lovely tearoom attached to the Paris Mosque with an outdoor enclosed patio. If there are science geeks in your crew, head to the Musée des Arts et Métiers after lunch. Otherwise spend the afternoon at the Palais de Tokyo, a contemporary art museum that is so wacky both kids and parents are sure to have a blast.
Kids may not appreciate the view at Sacré-Coeur, but they will enjoy the ride in the funicular that you take to get there (follow the signs from the Abbesses Métro stop). Once there, you'll find plenty of space to run around on the esplanade and lots of buskers for entertainment. After toodling around Montmartre, grab a bite to eat at Coquelicot (24 rue des Abbesses, 18th arrond.; www.coquelicot-montmartre.com; 01-46-06-18-77), a kid-friendly cafe-cum-bakery on rue des Abbesses. After lunch, wander around the covered passages off the Grands Boulevards (see “Arcades”), where you can window shop without worrying about anyone running off into the street and reward everyone’s good behavior with a visit to Grévin, a fun wax museum just off the Passage Jouffroy. If everyone is still in a jolly mood, take the no. 4 Métro (from Strasbourg Saint-Denis) all the way back to Cité and for an early-evening visit to Notre-Dame, when the crowds have thinned.
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